FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2014 AT 10:00 A.M

I welcome each of you to King’s House for the launch of the University of Birmingham/Jamaica National Foundation Legacy Scholarship.  We reserve a very special welcome to Professor Edward Peck, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, with whom we met during our own visit to Birmingham last year.  Professor, we hope that you will find the warmth of our tropical climate to your liking, especially in view of the record cold temperatures being experienced in the north.

Birmingham, ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware, is home to large numbers of the Jamaican Diaspora whose impact on British society is well-known.  No doubt the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley’s poem “Colonization in Reverse” could very well be applied to Birmingham to which so many Jamaicans, as well as other Caribbean and African migrants have flocked!  The events of more recent vintage, however, namely the 2012 Olympics and Jamaica50, are largely responsible for us being here today.

During our Jubilee celebrations in 2012 the City of Birmingham was the venue for a five-day celebration of Jamaican culture.  The University of Birmingham supported by Jamaica’s pioneer financial institution in the UK, the Jamaica National Building Society, hosted the Jamaican Olympic Team’s training camp.    The special bond between Jamaica and the City of Birmingham was very much on display at that time.

Perhaps, Professor Peck and Mr. Jarrett, the choice of venue was influenced by the initials UB which could stand for either Usain Bolt or University of Birmingham.   From the medal haul and the World Records we could say it was a good fit!   I was very pleased to have been there during the JNBS’s celebration of their 25th year in the United Kingdom in 2013.  I welcomed the opportunity to present plaques of appreciation to the former Mayor of the City of Birmingham, now Lord Whitby of Harborne of the City of Birmingham, and to you, Professor, on behalf of the Government and People of Jamaica.

That presentation had its genesis with the Jamaican Councilwoman from the Birmingham City Council, Miss Mosquito, who had come home for our 50th Anniversary celebrations. Once the Most Honourable Prime Minister accepted my proposal for the City and the University of Birmingham to be awarded tokens of Jamaica’s appreciation, we turned the baton over to IBI partner, Mr. Earl Jarrett and the rest is history.   So using the excellent opportunity of Jamaica National’s 25th Anniversary in the UK, we opened the pathway for the JN Foundation’s collaboration with the University of Birmingham for this Legacy Scholarship.

Today the ‘I Believe’ Initiative welcomes the launching of the University of Birmingham/Jamaica National Foundation legacy scholarship.  This brings much pleasure to Lady and me, since we were there at the very birth of the concept.   We are deeply grateful to both institutions which share the IBI’s passion for unearthing hidden potential.

For those who do not know, the ‘I Believe’ Initiative has as its mantra the notion that “there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.” We seek to create opportunities for Jamaicans and our young people to realize their God-given potential through education, youth development programmes and the strengthening of our family life here in Jamaica.

Mr. Earl Jarrett is one of our strongest supporters and through him, the JNBS’ partnership with the University of Birmingham has embraced the IBI.   We are very pleased that this scholarship will afford three Jamaican students each year, for the next three years, the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at that prestigious University.


I believe in partnerships ladies and gentlemen, for the building of a prosperous, productive Jamaica and therefore look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the University of Birmingham and the City from which it hails.

Thank you!